Weird History The 'Christian Identity Movement' Caused The Deadliest American Terrorist Bombing In History  

Jacob Shelton
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On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a U-Haul truck full of explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. When it detonated, 168 people lost their lives and more than 680 people were injured. In the following weeks, American citizens learned that a group of domestic terrorists adhering to the tenants of the so-called "Christian Identity Movement" were operating freely throughout the country. Shortly after McVeigh was caught, this group of domestic terrorists seemed to dissipate, lending credence to the idea that McVeigh had been indoctrinated or was at least a part of the warmongering movement.

White nationalist rhetoric in the United States has never really gone away, but it reached a fever pitch in the mid-'90s, when groups like The Order were acting out their white supremacist fantasies by robbing banks and murdering talk show hosts.

The Christian Identity Movement wasn’t one enclave of racists, it was an entire network of like-minded people who believed using the concept of a leaderless resistance would cause racial chaos and bring down the federal government. It's the same playbook that ISIS used. This campaign of ambiguous mayhem caused the Oklahoma City bombing, and while it’s been debated whether Timothy McVeigh was actually a part of the Aryan Republican Army or Bruder Schweigen, there’s no debating he held their same atrocious, racist beliefs.

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Photo: FBI/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

A Standoff At Ruby Ridge Catalyzed The Christian Identity Movement

In 1992, there was a standoff between the FBI, the Federal Marshall Service, and the Weaver family in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The standoff, and following deaths, were a beacon for the Christian Identity Movement. Sovereign citizens with similar ideals to the Weavers saw that they weren't alone, and it added fuel to the fire of the extreme right's view that the government was coming for their guns. 

The 11-day standoff stemmed from claims that Randy Weaver, an ex-Army officer, had a large weapons cache on his property. Rather than allow the Federal government into his home, Weaver attempted to hold the agencies at bay. However his wife and son, Vicki and Sammy, were killed in the process. 

Following the events of Ruby Ridge, 160 "white, Christian men" gathered in Estes Park, Colorado, where they listened to pastor Pete Peters as he told the group of "neo-nazis, Klansmen, and 'moderate rightists'" that "The [American] government does not punish the evil-doers, but rather increasingly is using its power to punish the righteous." White supremacists used Ruby Ridge as an example of the Federal government attempt to encroach on their rights, and an excuse to begin stockpiling weapons. 

Timothy McVeigh later claimed he bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in retaliation for the deaths that occurred in the sieges on Ruby Ridge and the Branch Davidian.

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Photo: Noah.levinson123usa/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

A Christian Identity Gang Murdered A Famous Liberal Radio Host

In many ways, it's impossible to differentiate members of the Christian Identity Movement from a gang of white supremacists. In the early '80s, a nine-person group calling itself The Order sprang from the training ground of The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord, a group that taught its members survivalist and urban warfare techniques. The Washington state organization modeled themselves after a group in The Turner Diaries, also known as The Order. Each member of the gang was given a copy of the book, and were made to read it as part of their initiation

In 1984, The Order bristled at the on-air stylings of Alan Berg, a Denver, Colorado based liberal talk radio host who openly railed against white nationalist groups like the Aryan Nation. The Order, who spent much of the '80s robbing banks and armored trucks, attempted to send a message to anyone who would speak out against their brand of hate, and murdered Berg in his driveway with an automatic weapon.  

None of the members of The Order who committed the murder were convicted, although two of them received lengthy prison sentences for violating the talk show host's civil rights. Bob Mathews, one of the group's co-founders, died in a firefight with the FBI before he saw the inside of a court room. 

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Photo: Leonard Brakebill/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Oklahoma City Bomber May Have Acted Under 'Leaderless Resistance'

One of the main tenants of the Christian Identity Movement in the late 20th century was the concept of "leaderless resistance." Followers of this white supremacist philosophy believed that by having hundreds of different members of the Aryan Nation acting independently from each other with the same goal, they could create chaos on a massive scale. It's a strategy similar to basically every terrorist organization in history.  

This concept is why many people believe Timothy McVeigh acted alone in destroying the Murrah building, despite his many ties to members of the Christian Identity Movement and other white separatist groups. 

A New York Times article from 1995 described how members of a leaderless resistance would go about letting others with similar ideologies in on their projects when they covered a publication called "The War Eagle: A Voice and Forum for Revolutionary Pan-Aryanism." The author of the white supremacist zine said that true believers should pass out pamphlets and make their own newspapers to disseminate information and "act when they feel the time is ripe."

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Photo: Scochran4/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The World Church Of The Creator Established A Connection Between White Supremacy And Christianity

The World Church of the Creator, also known simply as "Creativity," was formed in 1973 in Lighthouse Point, Florida, by Ben Klassen, a former Republican state legislator and supporter of George Wallace's presidential campaign. Prior to beginning WCC, Klassen started the White Nationalist Party, but shortly afterwards changed the name of the party to the WCC. 

Klassen's followers believed they were in a "racial holy war" against African-Americans and Jewish people. While the WCC attempted to start their holy war with a series of attempted murders and bombings, they became subject to lawsuits by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Klassen committed suicide in 1993. 

The WCC lied dormant for a few years before it was restarted by Matt Hale, a lawyer who was later sentenced to 40 years in prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge from an undercover agent. He argued that his phrasing was meant to be ambiguous. The Washington Post quoted Hale as saying: "...If you wish to, uh, do anything yourself, you can."